Emmanuel Sanders entered 2019 as one of the biggest unknown commodities in football. The star receiver tore his Achilles late in the 2018 season, and nobody knew how he’d look in the upcoming season. However, Sanders played like his old self and became a reliable, steadying presence for both the Denver Broncos and San Francisco 49ers. Now entering free agency, which teams will be in the mix for the versatile receiver?
NFL Free Agency: Emmanuel Sanders Team Fits
San Francisco 49ers
Emmanuel Sanders was everything the San Francisco 49ers could have hoped for. Acquired at the trade deadline, the longtime NFL veteran immediately became the top wide receiver on the depth chart. During his 10 regular season games with the 49ers, Sanders recorded 36 receptions for 502 yards and three touchdowns. The 49ers have plenty of cap space and will probably try to bring Sanders back for another run at a title.
Considering Sanders had to learn everything on the fly last year, it stands to reason that he can get even better with a full offseason in San Francisco. Combining his receiving prowess with George Kittle, an up-and-coming Deebo Samuel, and an offensive genius in Kyle Shanahan could give the 49ers one of the NFL’s best passing attacks in 2020.
New England Patriots
The Patriots desperately need some offensive weapons, and Emmanuel Sanders is the perfect fit for their offense. Whether it’s Tom Brady, Jarrett Stidham, or some new veteran, New England should get somebody to improve the receiving corps. Julian Edelman can’t do it all on his own, and supporting receivers Mohamed Sanu, N’Keal Harry, and Jakobi Meyers leave a lot to be desired.
This wouldn’t be the first time the Patriots tried to make a move for Sanders. Back in 2013, New England tried to pry Sanders away from the Pittsburgh Steelers during restricted free agency. However, Pittsburgh matched New England’s offer and retained Sanders for one additional season. It’s only fitting if, after all these years, Sanders finally makes it to Foxboro.
The Denver Broncos should be highly interested in bringing back their longtime star receiver. From 2013 to 2019, Sanders led the team with a combined 404 receptions for 5,361 yards and 28 touchdowns. He’s obviously great on the field and, by all accounts, was a great presence off the field.
The Broncos have a young stud in Courtland Sutton but could easily use another reliable starter. Sanders knows the system and his veteran presence should only increase the chances of Drew Lock developing into a true franchise quarterback.
After a terrible start to 2019, Dwayne Haskins finally started to show some signs of life towards the end of 2019. Assuming Haskins remains the starter in 2020 (that’s a pretty safe bet), first-year head coach Ron Rivera should do everything possible to make Haskins’ life as easy as possible. Pairing Sanders with Terry McLaurin should give Haskins all he needs to continue his development and improve in 2020. If Haskins doesn’t develop or even regresses, then it’s time for Washington to look for a new quarterback.
Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray had a successful first year in the NFL, but there is still room to grow. Kingsbury’s preferred style of play is highly dependent on talent at the wide receiver position. Christian Kirk should be a fixture in the offense for years to come, but Larry Fitzgerald is very much a year-by-year player at this point. Andy Isabella didn’t do much to inspire confidence as a rookie and Hakeem Butler spent the year on the injured reserve. Sanders can provide a steadying presence for the group and increase the overall potential of this offense.
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